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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Sir Richard Philips to William Godwin, 26 June 1805

Contents Vol. I
Ch. I. 1756-1785
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Ch. III. 1788-1792
Ch. IV. 1793
Ch. V. 1783-1794
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Ch. VII. 1759-1791
Ch. VII. 1791-1796
Ch. IX. 1797
Ch. X. 1797
Ch. XI. 1798
Ch. XII. 1799
Ch. XIII. 1800
Contents Vol. II
Ch. I. 1800
Ch. II. 1800
Ch. III. 1800
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Ch. V. 1802-1803
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Ch. VIII. 1811-1814
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Ch. XII. 1832-1836
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Bridge Street, June 26, 1805.

Dear Sir,—I still object to the word compile—it indicates a work of shreds and patches, and the compiler is one of the lowest pioneers in Grub Street. The word is not susceptible of a good sense except when it is honestly meant to confess the author’s obligation to scissors and paste. If you will have a dissyllable, take compose, anything rather than compile. Don’t let it be said that ‘Mr Godwin is compiling a History of England.’ What will be said, if this passes, even by your friends, and by your enemies in the obnoxious sense to which the words are liable.

“Now, Sir, for another point, but I have a garrulous old gentleman at my elbow, while I write, who, I fear, may disturb my chain of argument.

“It appears to me that you have not made the best of your cause. It would not seem from the connection of your reasoning that you have as yet any new materials on which to found your ‘History,’ but that having ‘undertaken to compile’ such a work, you have begun to look about you for materials, and that the readiest way is to advertize for them. I could then most humbly suggest that some idea like the following should be introduced. That since the time when Mr Hume wrote his ‘History,’ or during some late years, much attention has been paid to our national records, and all descriptions of Literati have been labouring to collect materials for the illustration of our ‘History,’ that the collections of the British Museum have been formed or greatly
enlarged since that time, that many disputed points have been elaborately discussed by the most able men, that many curious tracts have been published, and that in the estimation of many persons, Mr Hume’s ‘History’ is deformed by obvious partialities, &c., that therefore the said
William Godwin is led to undertake to write a new History, &c., &c., &c.

“Treat all this as you will, believing me to be, Dear Sir, devotedly and truly yours, &c.

R. Phillips.”